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Windows + Internet of Things
Like many Internet of Things (IoT) developers and enthusiasts, I signed up for Microsoft's Windows 10 insider newsletter when I learned the company was creating a special version of Windows for embedded boards and other IoT devices. So when I read in the newsletter that Microsoft had at last made Windows 10 for IoT available for download, I simply had to try out the OS on a Raspberry Pi 2.
Installing the OS
To assist developers, makers, and enthusiasts, Microsoft created this easy-to-follow setup and instruction page on GitHub. The instructions show how to "flash" a Windows 10 image to an SD card -- a concept familiar to Linux users long used to flashing bootable distros onto USB sticks.
Hardware wise, Microsoft recommends at-minimum an 8 GB SD Card, rated Class 10 or higher. However, I tried two types of 8 GB cards: A Class 10 card and a Class 4. And, as I suspected, this 8 GB SanDisk Class 4 card performed just fine:
Why? As I learned long ago creating bootable Cyanogen images for the Nook Color, sometimes using low rated SD Card class can be beneficial. This is because low-rated cards have been shown to provide excellent small block random write performance compared against cards of higher rating. This counterintuitive discovery was made years ago by the XDA Developers community, valuable knowledge now largely forgotten.
Regardless of the type of card you wish to use, creating the SD card images from a package file is a simple process -- provided you have a machine running Windows 10 (build 10069 or higher).
To illustrate, this screenshot shows every step of the "image flash" process:
Diskpart's list disk command provides the disk number of the SD card. This number is then "tacked on" to the end of dism's PhysicalDrive parameter. Dism -- which stands for Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool -- is the command that actually "flashes" the image file to the SD card.
I ran the quick "flash" process multiple times -- from scratch -- testing a variety of Pi 2 hardware configurations. In addition to a small HDMI monitor connected to Pi's HDMI port and an Ethernet cable, I attached different combinations of hardware to the Pi's USB ports: Keyboard, mouse -- even a Wi-Fi stick that shipped as part of this CanaKit Raspberry PI 2 kit:
Of the three USB peripherals I attached, only the mouse appeared detectable by the OS.
But things like this are to be expected: After all, the OS is named Windows 10 Core Insider Preview. We can expect Microsoft to continue adding and improving bits of the OS as time marches on. So for now, know that you can use a standard USB mouse to click the Settings "gear" icon (to access time zone and wireless settings), and the "power button" icon to shut down and restart the device.
For instructions on how to connect to the Pi via an Ethernet connection, consult this excellent "how-to" published by Microsoft on the hackster.io page.
I look forward to the opportunities presented by Windows 10 for IoT. With a fresh outlook and new leadership, Microsoft appears genuine in its efforts to work with open-source developers of every platform, even going so far as to provide development tools for Mac OS X and Linux users. In addition to the install instructions, Microsoft has created a page for IoT developers with source code examples (and Arduino devices!) on windowsondevices.com.
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